Most wall niches are small areas tucked into a wall between the studs. To make a wider wall niche without compromising the structural integrity of the wall, you need to install a header over the niche. The header is a horizontal board that extends from the studs on each side of a wall opening and supports whatever weight is above it. The larger the opening is, the larger the header needs to be.
- 2-by-6 lumber
- Circular saw
- Measuring tape
- Drywall tape
- 180-grit sandpaper
- Finish paint
Measure for the location and size of the niche you are building. Draw its outline on the wall. Cut the drywall off of an area that encompasses the final opening as well as the area where the header will be installed. Be sure that the sides of your opening line up with studs. If you don't have a stud finder, you can locate the studs by driving a small nail into the wall within the planned niche area, then working toward the side and popping the nail into the drywall every few inches, until you hit a stud.
Cut the opening in the drywall using a sharp utility knife. For a wall niche, a 2-by-6 header is more than adequate, so cut above the planned final opening of the niche by 5 1/2 inches (which is the actual width of a 2-by-6).
Pull the drywall off the wall, and remove any drywall screws that remain in the studs.
Mark the sides of the exposed studs with a horizontal line using a combination square and a pencil.
Cut the studs off at the top and bottom of the planned niche area using a circular saw, and remove the pieces. You may cause some damage on the other side of the wall when you remove the stud pieces if there are any drywall screws going into the parts you are removing. This should be fairly easy to fix with a bit of spackle and paint.
Install a 2-by-4 sill on top of the studs that remain underneath the pieces you remove. This 2-by-4 is the bottom of the rough opening for your niche.
Measure the width of your niche opening, and cut two 2-by-6 boards to this length. Nail the two 2-by-6 boards together. Install them at the top of the opening by driving screws at an angle through the ends of the 2-by-6 boards and into the side studs. Be sure the 2-by-6 boards are pressed up against the underside of the studs that were cut, so they are supported.
Cut a piece of drywall to fit over the 2-by-6 boards you installed. Screw the piece of drywall onto the face of the 2-by-6 boards using 1 1/4-inch drywall screws.
Tape and spackle any exposed screw holes and drywall joints. Allow the spackle to dry for 24 hours.
Sand the spackle with 180-grit sandpaper, prime any exposed drywall and paint to match the wall.